Dr. Adam Gazzaley seems to be everywhere talking about your brain.
He directs the Gazzaley Lab at the University of California at San Francisco, studying memory, attention, perception and how aging affects them; he is the founding director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center, and he is an associate professor of neurology.
If you read recent news stories about a video game called NeuroRacer that significantly helped older people sharpen multi-tasking ability, that was Gazzaley’s work. Have you seen the PBS special called “The Distracted Mind with Adam Gazzaley?” Did you hear on NPR or read earlier this month about Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart getting hooked up to a skull cap that measured his brain activity and turned it into a light show as he played? Yep, Gazzaley again.
Gazzaley is coming to Atlanta to talk at the AARP Life@50+ National Event Oct. 3-5.
It’s the perfect audience for his expertise — aging and the brain. As Baby Boomers and older folks begin to find themselves more easily distracted, forget where they put their keys or find themselves trying to remember that word that is right on the tips of their tongues, they are beginning to look for a little help. Gazzaley’s research is uncovering some intriguing leads into providing a brain boost.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with the doctor earlier this week.
Q: What are you going to talk about in Atlanta?
A: I will talk about how our brain changes as we get older and talk about where we are headed. I am interested in developing new games that regulate the mind wandering [maintaining attention]. And I have this project inspired by Mickey Hart [which is studying complex brain functions while doing things like playing drums to find ways to improve cognition and mood].
Q: So why do our brains change as we age?
A: There are numerous changes that occur as we age, and not just in our brain. Many of our organs change in function, some changes are chemical…and there are changes in the way we challenge ourselves. People seek out comfort. They are not challenging and interacting with the world like they did when they were younger.
Q: You mean, the way we interact with the world or stop interacting with the world changes the way our minds work?
Q: How does the high tech revolution and the distractions that all the devices we have affect people who didn’t grow up with them? People who are 40, 50 or older?
A: My whole show [“The Distracted Mind”] is about that. And it’s not just older people. All people are challenged by the constantly moving technology and the distractions that creates. There comes the time when you are doing something that demands the highest quality of work, and then you just have to shut everything down and focus.
Q: You mean like our mothers telling us to cut off the TV and do our homework?
A: It’s not so different.
Gazzaley will speak Oct. 4 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Those 50 and older are pursuing second careers, bouncing back from the Recession, running marathons, going to rock concerts, serving as volunteers and generally enjoying themselves.
AARP is bringing its national exposition, Life@50+ National Event, to Atlanta for that crowd. It will include motivational speakers, talks by people such as former broadcast news anchor Jane Pauley, dances, concerts, and seminars on everything from buying the right car to amping up your brain power.
Events begin 8 a.m. Oct. 3 and continue to 8 p.m. Oct 5. $25 for AARP members, $35 for nonmembers, additional costs for events such as the Gloria Estefan concert. Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd., Atlanta. http://bit.ly/16oXjP2.
Here are a few highlights:
8 a.m. day of community service kicked off by former football great Dan Marino and others.
9:30 a.m. Whoopi Goldberg and Tyler Perry are part of the opening show.
Noon: Life Reimagined with former Coach Vince Dooley, broadcaster James “J.B.” Brown and others.
1:30 p.m. Unleashing the Potential of our Aging Brains, Dr. Adam Gazzaley.
4:30 p.m. Balancing work and caregiving, tips to help juggle your job and demands at home.
7:30 p.m. Dance party with The Turtles, Chuck Negron of Three Dog Night and others.
9:15 a.m. Sweet Honey in the Rock performs and a discussion by Andrew Young, Dick Gregory and Julian Bond.
11:30 Financing your entrepreneurial dream.
1 p.m. Cool tech for the 50-plus.
2:30 p.m. Volunteer abroad; explore, serve and learn.
8 p.m. Gloria Estefan concert.